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JANUARY, 1849. 







I VENTURE to believe that nothing will be found in 
the following pages which bears the impress of my 
personal situation. While events of such magnitude 
are passing before his eyes, a man who did not 
forget himself would deserve to be for ever for- 
gotten. I have thought of nothing but the situation 
of my country. The more I reflect upon that, the 
more I am convinced that the evil which lies at the 
root of all her evils, which undermines and destroys 
her governments and her liberties, her dignity and 
her happiness, is the evil which I attack ; the 
idolatry of Democracy. 

Whether the accession of M. Louis Napoleon 
Bonaparte to the Presidency of the Republic will 
be found an efficacious remedy for this disease, 
the future will show. What I have said here 
after the election of M. Louis Napoleon Bonaparte, 
I should have equally said, without the slightest 
alteration, if General Cavaignac had been elected. 
It is not to individuals, but to society itself, that 
great social truths are addressed. 

( vii ) 



















MIRABEAU, Barnave, Napoleon, and Lafayette, who 
died at distant and very dissimilar periods, in bed 
or on the scaffold, in their own country or in 
exile, all died under the influence of one senti- 
ment a sentiment of profound melancholy. They 
thought their hopes deceived, their labours abortive. 
They were assailed by doubts of the success of 
their cause, and by misgivings as to the future. 

King Louis - Philippe reigned above seventeen 
years, for more than eleven of which I had the 
honour to be his minister. If to-morrow it pleased 
God to summon us into his presence, should we 
quit this earth very confident in the future destiny 
and the constitutional order of our country ? 



Is then the French Revolution destined to give 
birth only to doubt and deception ? to bury all its 
triumphs under ruins ? 

Yes : so long as France shall suffer the true and 
the false, the upright and the perverse, the prac- 
ticable and the chimerical, the salutary and the 
pestilent to be constantly mingled and confounded 
in her opinions, her institutions, and the govern- 
ment of her affairs, such will be the unfailing and 
inevitable result. 

Until a people which has gone through a great 
revolution has passed on the principles, the passions, 
and the doctrines which have led to this revolution, 
a sentence like that which shall be passed on all 
human things at the Last Day, " severing the wheat 
from the tares, and the corn from the straw that 
shall be cast into the fire," it can never surmount 
the perils, nor reap the advantages, of the struggle 
in which it has been engaged. 

So long as this judgment is deferred, chaos 
reigns ; and chaos, if prolonged in the midst of a 
people, would be death. 

Chaos is now concealed under one word Demo- 

This is now the sovereign and universal word 
which all parties invoke, all seek to appropriate as 
a talisman. 

The Monarchists say, " Our Monarchy is a De- 
mocratic Monarchy : therefore it differs essentially 


from the ancient Monarchy, and is adapted to the 
modern condition of society." 

The Republicans say, " The Republic is Demo- 
cracy governing itself. This is the only form of 
government in harmony with a democratic society, 
its principles, its sentiments, and its interests." 

Socialists, Communists, and Montagnards require 
that the republic should be a pure arid absolute 
democracy. This, in their estimation, is the condi- 
tion of its legitimacy. 

Such is the power of the word Democracy, that 
no government or party dares to raise its head, or 
believes its own existence possible, if it does not 
bear that word inscribed on its banner ; and those 
who carry that banner aloft with the greatest osten- 
tation and to the extremest limits, believe them- 
selves to be stronger than all the rest of the world. 

Fatal idea, which incessantly excites and foments 
social war amongst us ! This idea must be extir- 
pated ; for on its extirpation depends social peace, 
and, in her train, liberty, security, prosperity, dig- 
nity, all the benefits, material or moral, which social 
peace alone can ensure. 

The following are the causes to which the word 
democracy owes its power. 

It is the banner of all the social hopes and am- 
bitions of man, pure or impure, noble or base, 
rational or irrational, possible or chimerical. 



Now it is the glory of man to be ambitious. He 
alone, of all created beings, does not passively re- 
sign himself to evil ; he alone incessantly aspires 
after good ; not only for himself, but for his fellow- 
creatures. He respects and loves the race to which 
he belongs; he wishes to find a remedy for their 
miseries, and redress for their wrongs. 

But man is no less imperfect than he is ambitious. 
Amidst his ardent and unceasing struggles to era- 
dicate evil and to achieve good, every one of his 
virtuous inclinations is accompanied by an evil 
inclination which treads closely on its heels, or 
strives with it for precedence. The desire for jus- 
tice and the desire for vengeance the spirit of 
liberty and the spirit of tyranny the wish to rise 
and the wish to abase what has risen the ardent 
love of truth and the presumptuous temerity of 
fancied knowledge ; we may fathom all the depths 
of human nature ; we shall find throughout, the 
same mingled yet conflicting qualities, the same 
danger from their close and easy approximation. 

To all these instincts, at once contrary and parallel, 
to all indiscriminately, the bad as well as the good, 
the word Democracy holds out an interminable 
vista and infinite promises. It fosters every propen- 
sity, it speaks to every passion, of the heart of man ; 
to the most generous and the most shameful, the most 
moral and the most immoral, the gentlest and 


the harshest, the most beneficent and the most de- 
structive : to the former it loudly offers, to the latter 
it secretly and dimly promises, satisfaction. 

Such is the secret of its power. 

I am wrong in saying, the secret. The word Demo- 
cracy is not new, and in all ages it has signified what 
it signifies now. But what is new and proper to our 
times is this : the word Democracy is now pronounced 
every day, every hour, and in every place ; and at 
every time and place it is heard by all men. This 
formidable appeal to all thatris most potent, for good 
and for evil, in man and in society, was formerly 
heard only transiently, locally, and among certain 
classes, which, though bound to other classes by the 
ties of a common country, were distinct and pro- 
foundly different from them. They lived at a dis- 
tance from each other; each obscurely known to 
the other. Now there is but one society ; and 
in this society there are no more lofty barriers, no 
more great distances, no more mutual obscurities. 
Whether it be false or true, noxious or salutary, 
when once a social idea arises, it penetrates every- 
where, and its action is universal and constant. It 
is a torch that is never extinguished ; a voice that is 
never wearied or hushed. Universality and pub- 
licity are from henceforth the conditions of all the 
great provocations addressed to men, of all the 
great impulses given to society. 

This is doubtless one of those absolute and sove- 


reign facts which enter into the designs of God 
with regard to mankind. 

Such being the fact, the empire of the word De- 
mocracy is not to be regarded as a transitory or 
local accident. It is the development others would 
say the explosion of all the elements of human 
nature throughout all the ranks and all the depths 
of society ; and consequently the open, general, con- 
tinuous, inevitable struggle of its good and evil 
instincts ; of its virtues and its vices ; of all its powers 
and faculties, whether 4o improve or to corrupt, to 
raise or to abase, to create or to destroy. Such is, 
from henceforth, the social state, the permanent con- 
dition of our nation. 




THERE are men whom this fearful struggle does 
not alarm : thev have full confidence in human na- 


ture. According to them, if left to itself, its pro- 
gress is towards good : all the evils of society arise 
from governments which debase men by violence or 
corrupt them by fraud : liberty liberty for every- 
body and everything liberty will almost always 
suffice to enlighten or to control the wills of men, 
to prevent evil or to cure it : a little government 
the least possible may be allowed for the re- 
pression of extreme disorder and the control of brute 

Others have a more summary way of disposing 
of all dread of the triumph of evil in man or in 
society. There is, they say, no such thing as 
natural and necessary evil, since no human inclina- 
tion is bad in itself; it becomes so, only when it 
does not attain the end after which it aspires it is a 
torrent which overflows its banks when obstructed. 
If society were organized in such a manner that each 


of the instincts of man found its proper place and re- 
ceived its due satisfaction, evil would disappear, strife 
would cease, and all the various forces of humanity, 
harmoniously combine to produce social order. 

The former of these speculators misunderstand 
man ; the t latter misunderstand man, and deny 

Let any man dive into his own heart and ob- 
serve himself with attention. If he have the power 
to look, and the will to see, he will behold, with 
a sort of terror, the incessant war waged by the 
good and evil dispositions within him reason and 
caprice, duty and passion ; in short, to call them 
all by their comprehensive names, good and evil. 
We contemplate with anxiety the outward troubles 
and vicissitudes of human life; but what should 
we feel if we could behold the inward vicissitudes, 
the troubles of the human soul ? if we could 
see how many dangers, snares, enemies, combats, 
victories, and defeats can be crowded into a day 
an hour? I do not say this to discourage man, 
nor to humble or under-value his free will. He 
is called upon to conquer in the battle of life, and 
the honour of the conquest belongs to his free will. 
But victory is impossible, and defeat certain, if he 
has not a just conception and a profound feeling of 
his dangers, his weaknesses, and his need of assist- 
ance. To believe that the free will of man tends 
to good, and is of itself sufficient to accomplish 


good, betrays an immeasurable ignorance of his 
nature. It is the error of pride; an error which 
tends to destroy both moral and political order ; 
which enfeebles the government of communities 
no less than the government of the inward man. 

For the struggle is the same, the peril as immi- 
nent, the aid as necessary, in society as in the 
individual man. Many of those now living have 
been doomed to see, several times in the course of 
their lives, the social edifice tottering to its fall, and 
all the props that should uphold, all the bonds that 
should unite it, failing. Over what an immense 
extent, and with what fearful rapidity, have all the 
causes of social war and social destruction, which are 
always fermenting in the midst of us, each time 
burst forth ! Which of us has not shuddered at 
the sudden discovery of the abyss over which we 
live the frail barriers which separate us from it, 
and the destructive legions ready to rush forth 
upon society as soon as its jaws are unclosed ? For 
my own part, I was a spectator, day by day, hour 
by hour, of the purest, the wisest, the gentlest, and 
the shortest of these formidable convulsions; in 
July, 1830, I saw, in the streets and the palaces, 
at the gate of the national councils and in the 
midst of popular assemblies, society abandoned to 
itself, an actor or spectator of the revolution. 
And at the same time that I admired the gene- 
rous sentiments, the proofs of strong intelli- 


gence and disinterested virtue and heroic modera- 
tion which I witnessed, I shuddered as I saw 
a mighty torrent of insensate ideas, brutal 
passions, perverse inclinations, and terrible chi- 
meras, rise and swell, minute by minute, ready to 
overflow, and submerge a land where all the dikes 
that had contained it were broken down. Society 
had gloriously repulsed the violation of its laws and 
its honour, and now it was on the point of falling 
into ruins in the midst of its glory. Here it was 
that I learned the vital conditions of social order, 
and the necessity of resistance to ensure the safety 
of the social fabric. 

Resistance not only to evil, but to the principle of 
evil ; not only to disorder, but to the passions and the 
ideas which engender disorder this is the paramount 
and peremptory duty of every government. And the 
greater the empire of Democracy, the more im- 
portant is it that government should hold fast 
to its true character, and act its true part in the 
struggle which agitates society. Why is it that 
so many democracies some of them very bril- 
liant have so rapidly perished ? Because they 
would not suffer their governments to do their 
duty, and fulfil the objects for which governments 
are instituted. They did more than reduce them to 
weakness ; they condemned them to falsehood. It 
is the melancholy condition of democratic govern- 
ments, that while charged as they must be with 


the repression of disorder, they are required to be 
complaisant and indulgent to the causes of disorder ; 
they are expected to arrest the evil when it breaks 
out, and yet they are asked to foster it whilst it is 
hatching. I know no more deplorable spectacle 
than a power which, in the struggle between the 
good and the evil principle, continually bends the 
knee before the bad, and then attempts to resume an 
attitude of vigour and independence when it be- 
comes necessary to resist its excesses. If you will 
not have excesses, you must repress them in their 
origin. If you wish for liberty for the full and 
glorious development of human nature learn first 
on what conditions this is attainable ; look for- 
ward to its consequences. Do not blind yourselves 
to the perils and the combats it will occasion. 
And when these combats and these perils arise, do 
not require your leaders to be hypocritical or weak 
in their dealings with the enemy. Do not force 
upon them the worship of idols, even were you 
yourselves those idols. Permit them, nay command 
them, to worship and to serve the true God alone. 

I might here allow myself the satisfaction of re- 
calling the names of all the rulers who have fallen 
shamefully because they submitted basely to be the 
slaves or the tools of the errors and passions of the 
democracies it was their duty and their vocation to 
govern ; but I had rather dwell on the memory of 
those who lived gloriously by resisting them. It is 


more to my taste to prove the truth by examples 
of the success which crowns wisdom, than by those 
of the disasters which attend on folly. 

Democratic France owes much to the Emperor 
Napoleon. He gave her two things of immense 
value : within, civil order strongly constituted ; with- 
out, national independence firmly established. But 
had she ever a government which treated her with 
greater severity, or showed less complaisance for the 
favourite passions of Democracy ? As to the po- 
litical constitution of the state, Napoleon's only care 
was to raise power from the abasement into which it 
had fallen, to restore to it all the conditions of force 
and greatness. In this he saw a national interest 
paramount to all others, whether the nation were 
governed democratically or otherwise. 

But Napoleon was a despot. If he rightly under- 
stood and ably served some of the great interests of 
that new France he had to govern, he profoundly 
misunderstood and injured others*, not less sacred. 
How was it possible that one so hostile to liberty 
should be favourable to the political propensities of 
Democracy ? 

I shall not contest this. I run no risk of forgetting 
that Napoleon was a despot, for I have not to learn 
it now I thought so when he was living. It may, 
however, be asked whether he could have been 
otherwise ? whether he could have tolerated political 
liberty, and whether we were then in a state to receive 


it ? I shall not attempt to decide these questions. 
There are men, and very great men, who are suited 
to certain diseased and transitory crises, and not 
to the sane and permanent state, of society. Na- 
poleon was, perhaps, one of those men. That he 
mistook some of the essential wants of our time, 
nobody is more convinced than I am. But he re- 
established order and authority in the midst of 
democratic France. He believed, and he proved, 
that it was possible to serve and to govern a demo- 
cratic society without humouring all its inclinations. 
This is his real greatness. 

Washington has no resemblance to Napoleon. 
He was not a despot. He founded the political 
liberty, at the same time as the national independ- 
ence, of his country. He used war only as a means 
to peace. Raised to the supreme power without 
ambition, he descended from it without regret, as 
soon as the safety of his country permitted. He is 
the model for all democratic chiefs. Now you have 
only to examine his life; his soul, his acts, his 
thoughts, his words ; you will not find a single mark 
of condescension, a single moment of indulgence, 
for the favourite ideas of Democracy. He constantly 
struggled struggled even to weariness and to sad- 
ness against its exactions. No man was ever more 
profoundly imbued with the spirit of government, 
or with respect for authority. He never exceeded 
the rights of power, according to the laws of his 


country ; but he confirmed and maintained them, 
in principle as well as in practice, as firmly, as 
loftily, as he could have done in an old monarchical 
or aristocratical state. He was one of those who 
knew that it is no more possible to govern from 
below in a republic than in a monarchy in a demo- 
cratic than in an aristocratic society. 

Democratic societies enjoy no privilege which 
renders the spirit of government less necessary in 
them than in others ; no privilege which renders their 
vital conditions different or inferior to those required 
elsewhere. By an infallible consequence of the strug- 
gle which infallibly arises in such societies, the pos- 
sessor of power is continually called on to decide be- 
tween the contrary impulses by which he is solicited 
to make himself the artisan of good or the accom- 
plice of evil, the champion of order or the slave of 
disorder. The mythic story of the choice of Her- 
cules is the daily and hourly history of his life. 
Every government, whatever be its form or its name, 
which, by the vice of its organization or situation, or 
by the corruption or feebleness of its will, cannot 
fulfil this inevitable task, will speedily pass away like 
an evil phantom, or will ruin the democracy it 
affects to establish. 




I SHALL not speak of the republican form of govern- 
ment otherwise than with respect. Considered in 
itself, it is a noble form of government. It has 
called forth great virtues ; it has presided over the 
destiny and the glory of great nations. 

But a republican government has the same voca- 
tion, the same duties, as any other government. 
Its name gives it no claim to dispensation or 
privilege. It must satisfy both the general and 
permanent wants of human society, and the parti- 
cular wants of the particular community which it is 
called to govern. 

The permanent want of every community, the 
first and most imperious want of France at the 
present day, is, peace in the bosom of society itself. 

A great deal has been said about unity and social 
fraternity. These are sublime words, but they 
ought not to make us forget facts. Nothing has a 
more certain tendency to ruin a people than a 
habit of accepting words and appearances as 
realities. Whilst the shouts of unity and fraternity 


resound among us, they are responded to by 
social war, flagrant or imminent, terrible from the 
evils it causes, or from those it seems likely to 

I will not dwell on this grievous wound. Yet 
in order to cure, we ought to touch, and even to 
probe it. It is an old wound. The history of 
France is filled with the struggle between the 
different classes of society, of which the Revolution 
of 1789 was the most general and mighty explosion. 
The contests between nobility and commonalty, 
aristocracy and democracy, masters and workmen, 
those possessing property and those dependent on 
wages, are all different forms and phases of the 
social struggle which has so long agitated France. 
And it is at the very moment when we are boasting 
of having reached the summit of civilization it is 
while the most humane words that can issue from 
the lips of man are ringing in our ears, that this 
struggle is revived more violently, more fiercely 
than ever ! 

This is a curse and a shame, of which we, and 
the age we live in, must rid ourselves. Internal 
peace, peace among all classes of citizens, is the 
paramount want, the only chance for the salvation 
of France. 

Will the Democratic Republic give us this 
peace ? 

It did not begin well. When scarcely born, a 


civil war was its first necessity most unfortunately 
for the republic. Governments find great difficulty 
in rising- out of their cradles. Will the Democratic 
Republic succeed in the attempt ? If time is allowed 
to it, will it restore social peace? 

There is one circumstance which strikes me pow- 
erfully, and causes me great anxiety : that is, the 
ardour manifested by the republic to be expressly 
and officially called democratic. 

The United States of America are universally 
admitted to be the model of a Republic and a De- 
mocracy. Did it ever enter the head of the Ameri- 
can people to call the United States a Democratic 

No ; nor is this astonishing. In that country 
there was no struggle between Aristocracy and De- 
mocracy ; between an ancient aristocratical society 
and a new democratic society : on the contrary, the 
leaders of society in the United States, the descend- 
ants of the first colonists, the majority of the prin- 
cipal planters in the country and the principal mer- 
chants in the towns, who constituted the natural aris- 
tocracy of the country, placed themselves at the 
head of the revolution and the republic. The de- 
votion, energy, and constancy which they showed 
in the cause, were greater than those displayed by 
the people. The conquest of their independence, and 
the foundation of the republic, was not, then, the 
work and the victory of certain classes over certain 


other classes; it was the joint work of all, led by 
the highest, the wealthiest, and the most enlightened, 
who had often great difficulty in rallying the spirit 
and sustaining the courage of the mass of the popu- 

Whenever officers were to be chosen for the 
bodies of troops formed in the several States, Wash- 
ington gave this advice : " Take none but gentle- 
men : they are the most trustworthy, as well as the 

A republican government has more need than 
any other of the co-operation of every class of its 
citizens: if the mass of the population does not 
zealously adopt it, it has no root ; if the higher 
classes are hostile or indifferent to it, it can enjoy 
no security. In either case, it is reduced to the 
necessity of oppressing. It is precisely because in 
a republic the authority of the government is weak 
and precarious, that it stands in need of great moral 
support from the society over which it presides. 
Which are the republics that have lived long 
and honourably, overcoming the defects and the 
storms incident to their institutions ? Those only in 
which the republican spirit was sincere and general ; 
which obtained, on the one side, the attachment 
and the confidence of the people, and on the other 
the decided support of the classes who, by their 
position, fortune, education, and habits, bring into 
public life the largest share of natural authority, 


tranquil independence, knowledge, and leisure. On 
these conditions only can a republic be established 
or maintained ; for on these conditions only can it 
exist without troubling the peace of society, and 
without condemning its government to the deplor- 
able alternative of the disorganization of anarchy, 
or the rigid tension of tyranny. 

The United States of America enjoyed this 
singular good fortune, but it is denied to the 
French Republic. Indeed this is not only admitted, 
but proclaimed and vaunted, by its authors. What 
is the meaning of the words Democratic Repub- 
lic now current amongst us, and adopted as the 
official name, the symbol of the government ? It is 
the echo of an ancient social war-cry a cry which 
is still raised, still repeated in every class of so- 
ciety; still angrily uttered against one class by 
another, which, in its turn, hears it with terror di- 
rected against itself. All are in turn democrats as 
against those above them, aristocrats as against those 
below ; threatening and threatened, envious or en- 
vied, and exhibiting continual and revolting changes 
of position, attitude, and language, and a deplora- 
ble confusion of conflicting ideas and passions. It 
is war in the midst of chaos. 

But I hear it said, " This war is a fact it is the 
dominant fact of our history, our society, and our 
revolution. Such facts can neither be hidden nor 
passed over in silence, and this is become final 



and decisive. It is not war that we proclaimed in 
proclaiming a Democratic Republic, it is victory 
the victory of Democracy. Democracy has con- 
quered, and remains alone on the field of battle. 
She raises her visor, announces her name, and takes 
possession of her conquest." 

Such an answer is dictated by illusion or by hypo- 
crisy. How does a government, whether demo- 
cratic or not, assert and prove its victory, when 
that victory is real and decisive ? By restoring 
peace. Thus, and thus alone, could the Demo- 
cratic Republic have proved that it had conquered. 
But does peace reign in France ? Is it even ap- 
proaching? Do the various elements of society, 
willingly or unwillingly, satisfied or resigned, really 
believe in the existence and permanence of peace, 
and come to seek tranquillity, order, and protection 
under the shelter of the Democratic Republic ? Lis- 
ten to the comments on the title assumed by the 
republican government which are universally heard ; 
see the striking and menacing facts which are con- 
tinually occurring, and which are the consequence or 
the proof of those comments. Is this state of things 
peace ? Is there, I will not say the reality, but the 
bare appearance, of one of those energetic, wise, and 
conclusive victories which put an end, for a time at 
least, to social conflicts, and secure a long truce 
to harassed nations ? 

There are facts of such magnitude, clearness, arid 


prominence, that no human force or fraud can suc- 
ceed in hiding them. It is in vain that you repeat 
that the days of fraternity are come ; that Demo- 
cracy, such as you establish it, puts an end to all 
hostilities or conflicts of classes, and assimilates and 
unites all orders of citizens. The truth, the terrible 
truth, gleams through these vain words. Interests, 
passions, pretensions, situations, and classes conflict 
on every side, with all the fury of boundless hopes 
and boundless fears. It is clear that the first 
acts of the Democratic Republic threaten to plunge 
herself and us into the chaos of social war. 

And does she give us arms for our defence, or 
open to us issues for our escape ? 

I pass over the name she assumes ; I turn to the 
political ideas she proclaims as laws for the govern- 
ment of the state : so far from diminishing my 
anxiety, these serve but to increase it. For if the 
banner of the Democratic Republic appears to me 
to bear the inscription of social war, its constitution 
seems to me to lead directly to revolutionary des- 
potism. I find in it no distinct powers, possessed 
of sufficient inherent strength to exercise a reci- 
procal control ; no solid ramparts, under the shelter 
of which various rights and interests can take 
root and flourish in safety ; no organization of gua- 
rantees; no balance of powers in the centre of the 
state and at the head of government nothing but 
a single motive force and various wheels ; a master 


and his agents ; nothing between the personal liberty 
of the citizens and the bare will of the numerical 
majority : the principle of despotism, checked by 
the right of insurrection. 

Such is the position of the Democratic Republic 
with relation to social order ; such, with relation to 
political order, is the government which it consti- 

What can be the result ? Assuredly neither peace 
nor liberty. 

When the republic was proclaimed, in the midst 
of general and profound alarm, one sentiment pre- 
vailed. A great number of men attached to the 
interests of their country, said, or thought, " Let 
us wait ; let us try perhaps the republic will 
be different now from what it was heretofore; let 
the experiment be tried let it not be disturbed by 
violence : we shall see the result." 

They kept their word ; they have excited no 
troubles, they have raised no obstacles, to disturb or 
to impede the progress of the republic. 

The same sentiment prevailed throughout Europe 
a sentiment inspired, no doubt, by prudence, and 
not by any cordiality or hope : but the motives which 
influenced Europe signify little ; the important fact 
is, that no act, no danger from without troubles the 
French Republic in the experiment of its founda- 

On the other hand, justice compels us to acknow- 


ledge that the leaders of the republic have endea- 
voured to belie the predictions of its adversaries and 
the fears of the public. They have respected the faith 
of men. They have fought very late, it is true, but 
at last they have fought for the existence of society. 
They have not broken the peace of Europe, and they 
have striven to maintain the public credit. These 
meritorious efforts do honour to the men invested 
with power, and show, moreover, what the general 
instincts of the country are, But these men can 
only retard, they cannot arrest, the downward course 
of the state on a fatal declivity ; they can find no 
firm footing, and lose ground at every step. They 
have sunk into the revolutionary rut; and though 
they struggle not to plunge deeper into it, they can- 
not, or they dare not, quit it. The acts of the 
republic are not, in all points, what they formerly 
were ; but the republic is what it was. Whether 
as to social organization or political institutions, 
the conditions of order or the securities for liberty, 
the republic has nothing better to offer than what 
she offered fifty years ago. There are the same 
ideas, the same crude and rash experiments, often 
even the same forms and the same words. Strange 
spectacle ! The authors of the republic are afraid 
of their own work, and would fain change its cha- 
racter and aspect ; but they can produce nothing 
but a copy. 

How long, whatever be its ultimate success or 


failure, the present attempt will last, nobody knows. 
But hitherto France has evidently reason to fear 
that its first and paramount interests social peace 
and political liberty will be placed, or left, by the 
Democratic Republic, in immense danger. 




THE Social Republic promises to solve the difficulty. 

"All systems, all governments," it declares, " have 
been tried and found wanting. My ideas alone are 
new, and have not yet been put to the test. My 
day is come." 

This is a mistake. The ideas propounded by 
the Social Republic are not new. They are as old 
as the world. They have risen up in the midst of 
all the great moral and social crises, whether in the 
East or the West, in the ancient or the modern 
world. The second and third centuries in Africa, 
and especially in Egypt, during the agitations 
caused by the propagation of Christianity the 
middle ages during their confused, stormy fermen- 
tation the sixteenth century in Germany, in the 
course of the Reformation and the seventeenth 
in England during the political revolution, had 
their Socialists and their Communists, thinking, 
speaking, and acting precisely like those of our own 
day. It is a phase of human nature that reappears 
at epochs when society is like a boiling caldron, in 


which every ingredient is thrown to the surface and 
exposed to view. 

Till now, it is true, these ideas had only been 
enounced on a small scale, obscurely and timidly, 
and were repelled and execrated almost as soon as 
they saw the light. But now they boldly exhibit 
themselves, and put forth all their pretensions before 
the public. It signifies little whether this is by 
their own strength, by the fault of the public itself, 
or from causes inherent in the present state of 
society. Since the Social Republic is proclaimed 
aloud, we must look at it steadily and endeavour to 
fathom its lowest depths. 

I wish to avoid all circumlocution, to throw aside 
all disguises, and to go straight to the heart of the 
idol. Nor is this impossible. For as all the efforts 
of the Social Republic tend to one end, so all its 
ideas are the offspring of one fundamental idea. 

This fundamental idea is to be found, explicitly 
or implicitly, in the language of all the leaders of 
the Social Republic, though all do not avow, and 
some are perhaps not even conscious that they en- 
tertain it. M. Proudhon appears to me the one 
among them who knows best what he thinks and 
what he wishes: he appears to show the firmest 
and most consistent understanding in his detestable 

It is not, however, so firm nor so consistent as it 
appears, or probably as he himself thinks it. He 


has not declared, and I doubt if he have perceived, 
to what his system leads. 

His system, nakedly and rigorously stated, is 
this : 

All men have a right and the same right to 

Happiness is the enjoyment (without any limit 
but that prescribed by the want and the faculty of 
enjoying) of all the good things existing or possible 
in this world ; whether natural and primitive, or 
progressively created by the intelligence and the 
labour of man. 

Certain men, certain families, or certain classes 
have acquired the exclusive enjoyment of some (in- 
deed the greater part) of the most essential and 
productive of these good things ; or, in other words, 
these things, or the means of procuring them, are 
become the special and perpetual property of certain 
men, families, and classes. 

Such a confiscation of a part of the fund 
common to mankind, for the advantage of a few, is 
essentially contrary to justice ; contrary to the 
rights of the men of the same generation, who 
ought all to enjoy it equally ; and contrary to the 
rights of successive generations, each of which, on 
its entrance into life, ought to find the good things 
of life equally accessible, and to enjoy them in its 
turn like its predecessors. 

Therefore all special and perpetual appropriation 


of the good things which confer happiness, and of 
the means of procuring those good things, must 
be abolished, in order to insure the universal 
enjoyment and the equal distribution of them 
amongst all men, and all successive generations of 

But how is it possible to abolish property ? or, 
at least, so to transform it, that, as regards its social 
and permanent effects, it may be as if it were 
abolished ? 

Here the leaders of the Social Republic differ 
greatly among themselves. Some recommend slow 
and gentle measures ; others urge prompt and de- 
cisive ones. Some have recourse to political means 
for example, a certain organization of existence 
and labour in common ; others try to invent 
economical and financial expedients for example, 
a series of measures designed gradually to destroy 
the net revenue of property, whether in land or 
capital, and thus to render property itself useless 
and illusory. But all these schemes originate in 
the same design and tend to the same result ; the 
abolition or the nullification of personal, domestic, 
and hereditary property ; arid of all institutions, 
social or political, which are based upon personal, 
domestic, and hereditary property. 

Such, through all the diversity, obscurity, am- 
biguity, and contradiction of the ideas which cir- 
culate among the adherents of the Social Republic, 


is the beginning and the end, the alpha and omega, 
of all these systems ; such is the end they pursue, 
and hope to attain. 

But the following truths are forgotten by M. 
Proudhon and his friends. 

Mankind is not merely a series of individuals 
called men ; it is a race, which has a common 
life, and a general and progressive destiny. This 
is the distinctive character of man, which he alone 
of created beings possesses. 

And why is this ? It is because human indi- 
viduals are not isolated, nor confined to themselves, 
and to the point they occupy in space or time. 
They are connected with each other; they act upon 
each other, by ties and by means which do not 
require their presence, and which outlive them. 
Hence the successive generations of men are linked 
together in unbroken succession. 

The permanent union and progressive develop- 
ment which are the consequences of this unbroken 
succession of man to man, and generation to gene- 
ration, characterize the human race. They consti- 
tute its peculiarity and its greatness, and mark man 
for sovereignty in this world, and for immortality 
beyond it. 

From this are derived, arid by this are founded, 
the family and the state, property and inheritance, 
country, history, glory, all the facts and all the 
sentiments which constitute the extended and per- 


petual life of mankind, amidst the bounded appear- 
ance and rapid disappearance of individual men. 

In the Social Republic all this ceases to exist. 
Men are mere isolated and ephemeral beings, who 
appear in this life, and on this earth the scene of 
life, only to take their subsistence and their pleasure, 
each for himself alone, each by the same right, and 
without any end or purpose beyond. 

This is precisely the condition of the lower ani- 
mals. Among them there exists no tie, no influence, 
which survives the individual, and extends to the 
race. There is no permanent appropriation, no 
hereditary transmission, no unity nor progress in 
the life of the species ; nothing but individuals 
who appear and then vanish, seizing on their passage 
their portion of the good things of the earth and 
the pleasures of life, according to the combined 
measure of their wants and their strength, which, 
according to them, constitute their right. 

Thus, in order to secure to every individual of 
the human species the equal and incessantly fluctu- 
ating share of the goods and pleasures of sense, the 
doctrines of the Social Republic bring men down to 
the level of the lower animals. They obliterate the 
human race. 

They do worse. 

There is in the mind of man an imperishable in- 
stinct that God presides over his destiny, and that 
it is not wholly accomplished in this world. Natu- 


rally and universally, man believes in God and 
invokes him as his support in the present, his hope 
in the future. 

According to the doctrines of the Social Re- 
public, God is an unknown imaginary power, upon 
whom the visible and real rulers of men upon earth 
throw the weight of their own responsibility, and 
by thus directing the eyes of the suffering towards 
another master and another state of existence, dis- 
pose them to acquiesce in their afflictions,, whilst 
they secure themselves in the maintenance of their 
usurpations. According then to this doctrine, God 
is evil, for it is in his name that men are per- 
suaded to acquiesce in evil. To banish evil from 
the earth, it therefore is necessary to banish God 
from the mind of man. Men left alone with their 
earthly masters, and reduced to an earthly existence, 
will demand the enjoyments of this life and the* 
equal distribution of these enjoyments ; and as 
soon as those who are without them insist on 
having them, they will have them, for they are the 

Thus God and the human race will disappear 
together. In their place will remain animals still 
bearing the name of men, more intelligent and 
more powerful than other animals, but having 
the same condition and the same destiny; and 
like them seizing, on their passage through life, 
their portion of the goods of earth and the pleasures 


of sense, according to the combined measure of their 
wants and their strength, which constitute their right. 

Such is the philosophy of the Social Republic ; 
such, therefore, is the basis of its policy. We have 
traced its origin and its end. 

I will not insult the good sense or the dignity of 
mankind by dwelling on it longer. It is the 
degradation of man, and the destruction of so- 

Not only of society as at present constituted, but 
of all human society whatsoever : for all society rests 
on foundations which it is the object of the Social 
Republic to overthrow. It is not a mere invasion of 
the social edifice by intruders, whether barbarian or 
not ; it is the utter ruin of the edifice itself that is 
contemplated. If M. Proudhon had the absolute 
disposal of society in its present state, with all that 
* it possesses or enjoys, and were to change the dis- 
tribution and the possessors of property at his own 
good pleasure, he would be guilty of great iniquity, 
and occasion great suffering. He would not, how- 
ever, destroy society. But if he pretended to give 
the ideas witli which he tries to batter down the 
present structure of society, as laws to one newly 
framed, it would infallibly perish. Instead of a 
State and a People, there would be only a chaos of 
human beings, without a tie and without repose. 
Nor would it be possible to reduce that chaos to 
order without abandoning or evading the ideas of 


the Social Republic, and returning to the natural 
conditions of social order. 

The Social Republic is then at once odious and 
impossible. It is the most absurd, and at the same 
time the most perverse, of all chimeras. 

But we must not presume upon this. Nothing 
is more dangerous than what is at once strong and 
impossible. The Social Republic is strong; indeed 
how can it be otherwise ? Availing themselves with 
ardour of every kind of liberty granted for the pro- 
mulgation of ideas, its advocates are incessantly 
labouring to diffuse their principles and their pro- 
mises through the densest ranks of society. There 
they find masses of men easy to delude, easy to 
inflame. They offer them rights in conformity 
with their desires. They excite their passions in 
the name of justice and truth. For it would be 
puerile to deny (and for the honour of human na- 
ture we must admit) that the ideas of the Social 
Republic have, to many minds, the character and 
the force of truth. In questions so complex and so 
exciting, the smallest gleam of truth is suflicient to 
dazzle the eyes and inflame the hearts of men, 
and to dispose them to embrace with transport the 
grossest and most fatal errors with which that truth 
is blended. Fanaticism is kindled at the same time 
that selfishness is awakened ; sincere devotedness 
joins hands with brutal passions ; and, in the terrible 
fermentation which ensues, evil predominates ; the 



portion of good mingled with it acts only as its 
veil and its instrument. 

We have no right to complain, for it is we our- 
selves who incessantly add fuel to the fire and this 
is the most deep-seated of our maladies. It is we who 
give to the Social Republic its chief strength. It is 
the chaos of our political ideas and our political 
morality that chaos disguised sometimes under the 
word democracy, sometimes under that of equality, 
sometimes under that of people which opens all the 
gates, and throws down all the ramparts of society 
before it. We say that Democracy is everything. 
The men of the Social Republic reply, " Democracy 
is ourselves." We proclaim, in language of in- 
finite confusion, the absolute equality of rights and 
the sovereign right of numbers. The men of the 
Social Republic come forward and say, " Count our 
numbers." The perpetual confusion of the true and 
the false, the good and the bad, the possible and the 
chimerical, which prevails in our own policy, our own 
language, our own acts this it is which has en- 
feebled our arm for defence, and given to the Social 
Republic a confidence, an arrogance, and an influence 
for attack, which of itself it would never possess. 

When this confusion shall be dissipated ; when 
we shall arrive at that period of maturity in which 
free nations, instead of blindly following their first 
impressions, whithersoever they may lead, see 
things as they really are, assign to the different 


elements of society their just measure, and to words 
their true meaning, and regulate their ideas as they 
do their affairs, with that firm moderation which 
rejects all fantasies, admits all necessities, respects 
all rights, has regard to all interests, and represses 
all usurpations; those from below no less than 
those from above those of fanaticism no less than 
those of selfishness: when we shall have reached 
this point, although the Social Republic may not 
entirely disappear, and although we may not have 
entirely crushed its efforts nor annihilated its dan- 
gers (for it derives its ambition and its strength 
from sources that none can dry up), still it will be 
controlled by the union and the order of society ; 
all that is most absurd and perverse in its doctrines 
will be incessantly combated and defeated, and it 
will in time take its due place in that vast and 
imposing development of the human race which is 
passing before our eyes. 




THE first step towards extricating ourselves out of 
the chaos in which we are plunged, is, a full ucder- 
standing and frank admission of all the real and 
essential elements of which society in France is 
now composed. 

It is because we misunderstand these elements, 
or refuse them the place and the consideration they 
deserve, that we remain in, or relapse into, chaos. 

A society may be tortured, perhaps destroyed ; 
but you cannot force it to assume a form and 
mode of existence foreign to its nature, either by 
disregarding the essential elements of which it is 
constituted, or by doing violence to them. 

Let us first advert to that civil order which 
forms the basis of French society, as of every other 

Family; property of all kinds, whether land, 
capital, or wages ; labour, under all its forms, indi- 
vidual or collective, intellectual or manual ; the 
situations in which men are placed, or the relations 


which are introduced among them by the incidents 
of family, property, and labour; such are the con- 
stituents of civil society. 

The essential and characteristic fact in French 
civil society is, unity of laws and equality of rights. 
All families, property of every kind, labour of every 
description, are governed by the same laws, and 
possess or confer the same civil rights. There are 
no privileges ; that is, no laws or rights peculiar to 
particular families, or to property or labour of par- 
ticular sorts. 

This is a new and mighty fact in the history of 
human societies. 

But notwithstanding this fact, notwithstanding 
this civil unity and equality, there are evidently 
numerous and great diversities and inequalities, 
which unity of laws and equality of rights can 
neither prevent nor remove. 

As to property, whether in immoveables or move- 
ables, land or capital, there are rich and poor ; there 
are large, middling, and small properties. 

The great proprietors may be less numerous and 
less wealthy, and the middling and small proprietors 
may be more numerous and more powerful, than 
they were formerly, or than they are in other coun- 
tries ; but this does not prevent the inequality 
amongst them from being real and great enough to 
occasion a radical difference and inequality of social 


From diversities of position founded on property, 
I pass on to those founded upon labour, of every 
kind and degree, from the highest intellectual, to 
the lowest manual labour. Here too I meet with 
the same fact. Here too diversity and inequality 
arise and subsist, in spite of identical laws and equal 

In the professions called liberal, or those which 
depend on the cultivation and employment of the 
intellect; among lawyers, physicians, men of science, 
and literary men of every sort, some few rise to the 
highest rank, attract business, and gain success, 
reputation, wealth, and influence. Others earn 
laboriously what is barely sufficient for the wants of 
their families, and the decencies of their station. 
Many more vegetate in obscure and unemployed 

And here one fact deserves notice. From the time 
when all professions have been accessible to all, from 
the time when labour has been free, subject only to 
the same laws for all, the number of men who have 
raised themselves to the first ranks in the liberal 
professions has not sensibly increased. It does not 
appear that there are now more great lawyers or 
physicians, more men of science or letters of the first 
order, than there were formerly. It is the men of 
the second order, and the obscure and idle multi- 
tude, that are multiplied. It is as if Providence 
did not permit human laws to have any influence 


over the intellectual rank of its creatures, or the 
extent and magnificence of its gifts. 

In the other trades or professions, in which labour 
is chiefly material and manual, there are also dif- 
ferent and unequal situations. Some, by intelligence 
arid good conduct, accumulate a capital and enter 
upon the path of competence and advancement ; 
others, either incapable or improvident, lazy or 
dissolute, remain in the narrow and precarious con- 
dition of men dependent upon the daily casualties 
of wages. 

Thus throughout the whole extent of civil society, 
whether among those who depend on labour, or 
those possessed of property, diversity and inequal- 
ity of situation arise and coexist with unity of laws 
and equality of rights. 

How, indeed, can it be otherwise? If we ex- 
amine every form of human society throughout 
all ages and countries whatever be the variety of 
their organization, government, extent, or duration, 
or of the kind and degree of civilization to which 
they have attained we shall find three types of 
social position always fundamentally the same, 
though under very different forms and very dif- 
ferently distributed. 

1. Men living on the income of their property, 
whether in land or capital, without seeking to 
increase it by their own labour ; 


2. Men occupied in increasing by their own 
labour the property, whether in land or capital, 
which they possess ; 

3. Men living by their labour without land or 

These diversities and inequalities in the social 
condition of men are not accidental, or peculiar to 
any particular time or country. They are universal 
facts, which naturally arise in every human society, 
amidst circumstances, and under laws, the most 
widely different. 

And the more accurately we study them, the more 
clearly we shall perceive that there exists an inti- 
mate connexion and a profound harmony between 
these facts and the nature of man, which we know, 
on the one hand, and the mysteries of his des- 
tiny, of which we can only obtain a dim and distant 
glance, on the other. 

Nor is this all. Independently of these diversi- 
ties and inequalities among individuals, whether 
proprietors or labourers, other diversities and other 
inequalities exist among the kinds of property and 
of labour. These differences are not less real than 
the others, though they are less apparent ; nor are 
they more incompatible with unity of laws or 
equality of civil rights. 

Moveable property, or capital, has acquired, and 
continues to acquire, an ever increasing extension 


and importance in the communities of modern 
Europe. It is evident that the progress of civili- 
zation in our times is entirely in favour of its 
development ; a just requital for the immense services 
which capital has rendered to civilization. 

But this is not enough : efforts are continually 
made to assimilate immoveable to moveable pro- 
perty; to render land as transferable, as divisible, as 
convenient to possess and to improve as capital. All 
the proposed innovations, direct or indirect, in 
the laws relating to landed property, have this 
object in view, either openly or covertly. 

But though a movement so favourable to capital 
is going on, landed property is still the most 
considerable in France, and still holds the first 
place in the estimation and the desires of the 
people. Those who possess it addict themselves 
more and more to the enjoyment of it, and those 
who do not possess it are more and more eager 
after its acquisition. The great proprietor is return- 
ing to the taste for living on his estate : the trades- 
man, who has earned a competence, retires to the 
country to enjoy repose : the peasant thinks of 
nothing but how to add field to field. Whilst 
everything is done to favour the development of 
capital, landed property is more in request and 
more prized than ever. 

It may be confidently predicted that if, as I 
hope, social order triumphs over its insane or de- 


praved enemies, the attacks of which landed pro- 
perty is now the object, and the dangers with which 
it is threatened, will, in the end, enhance its pre- 
ponderance in socjety. 

Whence arises this preponderance ? Is it merely 
because, of all sorts of property, land is the most 
secure, the least variable ; that which best resists 
the perturbations, and survives the calamities of 
society ? 

This motive, though real, powerful, and obvious, 
is far from being the only one. There are other 
motives, or rather we may call them deep-seated 
instincts, whose empire over man is great, even 
when he is unconscious of it. These secure the 
social preponderance of landed property, or re- 
store it when transiently shaken or enfeebled. 
Among these instincts two appear to me the most 
powerful ; it will be sufficient to indicate them, 
for an attempt to fathom their depths would carry 
me too far. 

Moveable property, or capital, may procure a 
man all the advantages of wealth ; but property in 
land gives him much more than this. It gives him 
a place in the domain of the world it unites his 
life to the life which animates all creation. Money 
is an instrument by which man can procure the 
satisfaction of his wants and his desires. Landed 
property is the establishment of man as sovereign 
in the midst of nature. It satisfies not only his wants 


and his desires, but tastes deeply implanted in his 
nature. For his family, it creates that domestic 
country called home, with all the living sympathies 
and all the future hopes and projects which people it. 
And whilst property in land is more consonant than 
any other to the nature of man, it also affords a 
field of activity the most favourable to his moral 
development, the most suited to inspire a just senti- 
ment of his nature and his powers. In almost all 
the other trades or professions, whether commercial 
or scientific, success appears to depend solely on 
himself on his talents, address, prudence, and 
vigilance. In agricultural life, man is constantly 
in the presence of God, and of his power. Activity, 
talents, prudence and vigilance are as necessary 
here as elsewhere to the success of his labours, but 
they are evidently no less insufficient than they are 
necessary. It is God who rules the seasons and 
the temperature, the sun and the rain, and all those 
phenomena of nature which determine the success 
or the* failure of the labours of man on the soil 
which he cultivates. There is no pride which can 
resist this dependence, no address which can escape 
it. Nor is it only a sentiment of humility as to his 
power over his own destiny which is thus incul- 
cated upon man ; he learns also tranquillity and 
patience. He cannot flatter himself that the most in- 
genious inventions or the most restless activity will 
ensure his success ; when he has done all that de- 


pends upon him for the cultivation and the fertiliza- 
tion of the soil, he must wait with resignation. The 
more profoundly we examine the situation in which 
man is placed by the possession and cultivation of 
the soil, the more do we discover how rich it is 
in salutary lessons to his reason, and benign in- 
fluences on his character. Men do not analyze these 
facts, but they have an instinctive sentiment of 
them, which powerfully contributes to that pecu- 
liar respect in which they hold property in land, 
and to the preponderance which that kind of pro- 
perty enjoys over every other. This preponder- 
ance is a natural, legitimate and salutary fact, 
which, especially in a great country, society at 
large has a strong interest in recognising and 

What I have just shown with relation to pro- 
perty, is equally true with relation to labour. It 
is the glory of modern civilization to have un- 
derstood and proclaimed the moral value and the 
social importance of labour ; to have raised it to the 
estimation and the rank which justly belong to it. 
If I had to point out the most profound evil, the 
most fatal vice, of the state of things which pre- 
vailed in France up to the sixteenth century, I 
should say, without hesitation, the contempt in 
which labour was held. Contempt of labour and 
pride in idleness are certain signs either that so- 
ciety is under the dominion of brute force, or that 


it is verging to its decline. Labour is the law which 
God has enjoined on man. It is by labour that he 
developes and improves everything around him by 
labour that he developes and improves his own 
nature. Labour is become the surest pledge of 
peace between nations. The respect and the liberty 
enjoyed by labour tend more than anything to calm 
the anxieties which we might otherwise too justly 
feel, and to raise our hopes for the prospects of the 
human race. By what fatality then has it hap- 
pened that the word labour, so honourable to modern 
civilization, is become a war-cry and a source of 
disasters in France ? It is because that word is made 
a cloak for a great and pernicious lie. It is not 
labour, its interests or its rights, which are the 
object of the ferment excited in its name; the 
war which has been declared on the plea of pro- 
tecting labour, is not in fact waged in its be- 
half, nor, if successful, would redound to its 
advantage. It is, on the contrary, directed against 
labour, whose ruin and degradation would be its 
infallible result. 

Labour, like family, property, and everything else 
in this world, is subject to natural and general 
laws ; among which are, diversity and inequality of 
the kinds and the results of labour, and of the 
stations of those by whom it is performed. Intel- 
lectual labour is superior to manual. Descartes, 
who enlightened France, and Colbert, who laid 


the foundations of her prosperity, performed a 
labour superior to that of the workman who prints 
the works of Descartes, or who helps to produce the 
manufactures fostered by Colbert ; and among these 
very workmen, those who are intelligent, moral, 
and industrious, justly attain to a situation superior 
to that which the same description of labour can 
secure to the dull, the lazy, or the licentious. The 
variety of tasks and vocations allotted to man is 
infinite. Labour is everywhere in the house of a 
father of a family, who educates his children and 
superintends his affairs ; in the cabinet of a states- 
man who takes part in the government of his 
country ; in that of the magistrate who administers its 
laws ; of the philosopher who instructs, and of the 
poet who charms it ; in the fields, on the ocean, on 
the highways, in the manufactories and the work- 
shops ; and in every situation, in every variety of 
labour, in every class of labourers, diversity and in- 
equality arise and subsist ; inequality of intellectual 
power, of moral merit, of social importance, of 
material wealth. These are the natural, primitive, 
universal laws of labour, originating in the nature 
and condition of man, or, to speak more properly, 
ordained by the wisdom of God. It is against these 
laws that the war of which we are witnesses is 
waged ; it is this hierarchy of labour, founded on 
the decrees of God and the free actions of man, 
which it is the object of this war to abolish ; and to 


substitute what ? the degradation and the ruin of 
labour, by the reduction of all labour and all 
labourers to the same level ! Examine the meaning 
which is usually affixed to the word labour in 
the language of these enemies of social order. They 
do not distinctly say that material and manual work 
are the only real work ; indeed they occasionally 
affect great respect for purely intellectual labour : 
but they omit to mention the various sorts of higher 
labour which are performed on every stage of the 
social scale ; their whole attention is absorbed by 
material labour, which they constantly represent as 
the kind of labour whose importance throws every 
other into the shade. In short, they talk in a 
manner to excite and keep alive in the minds of the 
men employed in physical labour, the opinion 
that theirs only has a claim to the name and the 
rights of labour. Even when speaking not of la- 
bour, but of labourers, they hold the same levelling 
and depreciating language ; ascribing the rights of 
labour to workmen, as such, independently of all de- 
grees of personal merit. Thus the coarsest and most 
ordinary labour is assumed as the standard to which 
all the higher degrees are adjusted ; and diversity 
and inequality are abolished, for the supposed ad- 
vantage of that which is the least and the lowest 
in the scale ! 

Do those who hold such language serve do 
they even understand the cause which they affect 


to advocate? Is it by such means that we can 
advance, or even barely keep our ground, on that 
glorious path of civilization in which labour ac- 
quired its proper rank and dignity ? Do we not, 
on the contrary, mutilate, degrade, and disgrace 
labour, when we strip it of a part of its noblest 
claims, and substitute in their stead pretensions 
which are not only absurd and preposterous, but 
mean, in spite of their insolence? Lastly, does 
not such language show a gross misconception and 
violent perversion of the natural facts on which 
civil society in France is founded ? This, though 
admitting unity of laws and equality of rights, 
assuredly never pretended to abolish that variety 
of faculties, merits, and destinies, which is one of 
the mysterious laws of God, and the inevitable result 
of the free will of man. 

Let us now turn from civil to political society ; 
that is, the relation existing between men, in vir- 
tue of their interests, opinions and sentiments, and 
the ruling power under which they live. Let us 
endeavour here to determine also the real and es- 
sential elements of which society is now composed 
in France. 

In a free country, or in one struggling to become 
free, the elements of political society are political 
parties, in the widest and highest acceptation of the 

Legally, there are now no other parties in France 


than those inherent in every constitutional state ; the 
party of the Government and that of the Oppo- 
sition. There are neither Legitimists nor Orleanists. 
The Republic exists, and will not suffer the prin- 
ciple of its existence to be attacked ; and as this 
is the indisputable right of every established go- 
vernment, it is by no means my intention to contest 
or to infringe it. 

But there are things so inherent in society, that 
prohibitive laws, even when obeyed, fail to eradi- 
cate them. There are political parties of which the 
germ lies so deeply buried, and the roots so widely 
spread, that they do not die, even when they are no 
longer apparent. 

The Legitimist party is not a mere dynastic, nor 
is it a mere monarchical, party. It is indeed at- 
tached to a principle and to a name ; but it also 
occupies a great substantive place both in the history 
and on the soil of France. It represents all that re- 
mains of the elements so long predominant through- 
out that French society which contained within itself 
the fruitful and vigorous germs of progress ; and out 
of which arose, after a growth of ages, the France 
which suddenly burst forth in 1789, mighty, aspiring, 
and glorious. Though the French Revolution over- 
threw the ancient fabric of French society, it could 
not annihilate its elements. In spite of the con- 
vulsions by which they were dispersed, and in the 
midst of the ruins by which they are surrounded, 



these still subsist, and are still considerable in modern 
France. At every succeeding crisis they evidently 
acquiesce more completely in the social order and 
political constitution which the country has adopted ; 
and by this acquiescence they take their station in 
it, and change their position without disowning 
their character. 

Moreover, does anybody believe that the party 
which endeavoured to found a constitutional monar- 
chy in 1830, and which upheld that monarchy for 
more than seventeen years, has vanished in the 
tempest that overthrew the edifice it had raised? 
It has been called the party of the bourgeoisie, the 
middle classes ; and this in fact it was, and still is. 
The ascendancy of the middle classes in France, in- 
cessantly supplied by recruits from the bulk of the 
population, is the characteristic feature in our history 
since 1789. Not only have they conquered that 
ascendancy, but they have justified their claims to 
it. Amidst the grievous errors into which they 
have fallen, and for which they have paid so dearly, 
they have shown that they really possessed the qua- 
lities that constitute the strength and greatness of 
a nation. On all emergencies, for all the wants 
of the country in war or peace, and to every kind 
of social career, this class has abundantly furnished 
men, nay, generations of men, able, active, and 
sincerely devoted to the service of their country. 
When called on in 1830 to found a new mo- 


narchy, the middle classes brought to that difficult 
task a spirit of justice and political sincerity of 
which no succeeding event can cancel the merit. 
In spite of all the passions and all the perils that 
assailed them, in spite even of their own pas- 
sions, they earnestly desired constitutional order, 
and they faithfully observed it. At home, they 
respected and maintained universal, legal and prac- 
tical liberty ; abroad, universal, firm and prosperous 

I am not one of those who disregard or despise 
the power of the affections in political affairs. I do 
not regard it as any proof of greatness or strength 
of mind to say, " We don't care for such or such a 
family ; we attach no value to proper names ; we 
take men or leave them according to our wants or 
our interests :" to me, this language, and the class 
of opinions which it discloses, appear to betray far 
more political ignorance and impotence than ele- 
vation of mind or rectitude of judgment. It is, how- 
ever, indisputable that political parties having no 
other attachment than that excited by proper names, 
and no other strength than that derived from per- 
sonal affections, would be extremely feeble and inef- 
ficient. But can anybody for a moment imagine 
that the Legitimist party, or the party attached to 
the monarchy of 1830, are of that nature ? Is it not 
evident, on the contrary, that these parties are far 
more the offspring of the general course of events 

E 2 


than of attachment to persons? that they are of a 
social, as well as a political nature, and correspond 
to the most deep-rooted and indestructible elements 
of society in France ? 

Around these great parties floats the mass of the 
population ; holding to the one or the other by its 
interests, its habits, or its virtuous and rational 
instincts ; but without any strong or solid adhesion, 
and incessantly assailed and worked upon by So- 
cialists and Communists of every shade. These last 
do not constitute political parties, for they do not 
espouse any political principle, nor advocate any 
peculiar political organization. Their only endea- 
vour is to destroy all the influences, and to break 
all the ties, material or moral, which bind the part 
of the population living by the labour of its hands, 
to the class occupied in the business of the state ; 
to divide that part of the population from the land- 
owner, the capitalist, the clergy, and all the other 
established authorities; and finally to work upon 
it through its miseries, and rule it by its appetites. 
One name denotes them all ; all are members of the 
one great Anarchical Party. It is not the superiority 
of this or that form of government which they preach 
to the people it is sheer and absolute anarchy; for 
one kind of government is as incompatible with chaos 
as another. There is, however, one striking fact : 
whether sincere or depraved, blind Utopians or de- 
signing Anarchists, all these disturbers of social 


order are Republicans. Not that they are more 
attached or more submissive to republican go- 
vernment than to any other ; for every regular and 
efficient government, whether republican or mo- 
narchical, is equally odious to them ; but they hope 
that under a republic they shall find stronger 
weapons to aid their attacks, and feebler barriers 
to resist them. This is the secret of their prefer- 

I have thus surveyed French society on every side. 
I have sought out and exhibited all its real and 
essential elements, and all my inquiries lead to the 
same result. On every side, whether in political or 
civil life, I meet with profound diversities and in- 
equalities : diversities and inequalities which can 
neither be obliterated in civil life by unity of laws 
and equality of rights, nor in political life by a re- 
publican government ; and which endure or revive 
under legislation of every kind and government of 
every form. 

This is not an opinion, an argument, or a con- 
jecture, but a statement of facts. 

Now what is the import and tendency of these 
facts? Shall we find in them the ancient classi- 
fications of society ? Will the ancient political 
denominations apply to them ? Do they exhibit 
an aristocracy opposed to a democracy; or a nobility, 
a bourgeoisie, and a so-called people ? Would these 
diversities and inequalities of social and political 


position form, or tend to form, a hierarchy of classes 
analogous to those which formerly existed in French 
society ? 

No, certainly ! the words aristocracy, democracy, 
nobility, bourgeoisie, or hierarchy, do not correspond to 
the constituent elements of modern French society, 
or express them with any truth or accuracy. 

Does then this society consist solely of citizens 
equal among each other ? Are there no different 
classes, and only individual diversities and inequali- 
ties, devoid of all political importance'? Is there 
nothing but a great and uniform democracy, which 
seeks satisfaction in a republic at the risk of find- 
ing repose in a despotism ? 

Neither is this the fact; either of these de- 
scriptions would equally misrepresent the true 
state of our society. We must emancipate our- 
selves from the tyranny of words, and see things 
as they really are. France is extremely new, 
and yet full of the past; whilst the principles 
of unity and equality have determined her orga- 
nization, she still contains social conditions and 
political situations profoundly different and un- 
equal. There is no hierarchical classification, but 
there are different classes ; there is no aristocracy, 
properly so called, but there is something which is 
not democracy. The real, essential, and distinct 
elements of French society, which I have just de- 
scribed, may enfeeble each other by perpetual con- 


flicts, but neither can destroy or obliterate the 
other. They survive all the struggles in which 
they engage, and all the calamities which they 
inflict on each other. Their co-existence is a fact 
which it is not in their power to abolish. Let them 
then fully acquiesce in it ; let them live together, 
and in peace. Neither the liberty nor the repose, 
the dignity nor the prosperity, the greatness nor 
the security of France, are to be had on any other 

On what conditions can this peace be established ? 




WHENEVER it shall have been distinctly perceived 
and fully admitted that the different classes which 
exist among us, and the political parties which 
correspond to those classes, are natural and deeply- 
rooted elements of French society, a great step will 
have been made towards social peace. 

This peace is impossible so long as each of the 
different classes and the great political parties into 
which our society is divided cherishes the hope of 
annihilating the others, and of reigning alone. That 
is the evil which, ever since 1789, has periodically 
agitated and convulsed France. Sometimes the de- 
mocratic element has aimed at the extinction of the 
aristocratic ; at other times the aristocratic element 
has tried to crush the democratic, and to regain its 
former predominance. Constitutions, laws, and the 
administration of the government have been by turns 
directed, like engines of war, to one or the other of 
these ends a war to the death, in which neither 
combatant believed his life compatible witli that of 
his rival. 


This war was suspended by the Emperor Napo- 
leon. He rallied around him the classes which 
had formerly possessed, and those which actually 
enjoyed, power and influence ; and by the security 
which he offered them, by the continual turmoil in 
which he kept them, or by the yoke which he imposed 
upon them, he established and maintained peace. 

After him, from 1814 to 1830, and from 1830 to' 
1848, this war was renewed. A great progress had 
been made. Liberty had become real. Both the 
ancient aristocratic, and the modern democratic ele- 
ments acquired strength ; but though neither could 
succeed in suppressing the other, each was impa- 
tient of its adversary's existence, and eagerly strove 
for the mastery. 

And now a third combatant has entered the 
arena. The democratic party having divided itself 
into two conflicting sections, the workmen are now 
arrayed against their masters, or the people against 
the middle classes. This new war, like the former, 
is a war to the death ; for the new aspirant is as 
arrogant and exclusive as the others can have ever 
been. The sovereignty, it is said, belongs of right 
to the people only ; and no rival, ancient or modern, 
noble or bourgeois, can be admitted to share it. 

Every pretension of this kind must be withdrawn, 
not by one only, but by all of the contending parties. 
The great elements of society among us the old 
aristocracy, the middle classes, and the people 


must completely renounce the hope of excluding 
and annihilating each other. Let them vie with each 
other in influence ; let each maintain its position and 
its rights, or even endeavour to extend and improve 
them, for in such efforts consists the political life of 
a country. But there must be an end of all radical 
hostility : they must resign themselves to live toge- 
ther, side by side, in the ranks of the government 
as well as in civil society. This is the first condition 
of social peace. How, it may be asked, can this 
condition be satisfied? How can the different 
elements of our society be brought to tolerate each 
other's existence, and to fulfil their several functions 
in the government of the country ? 

I reply, by such an organization of that govern- 
ment as may assign to each its place and functions ; 
may concede something to the wishes, while it im- 
poses limits to the ambition, of all. 

I am here met by an idea, perhaps the most false 
and fatal of all those current in our days on the 
subject of constitutional organization. It is this : 
" National unity involves political unity. There is 
but one people : there can exist at the head and in 
the name of this people, but one power." 

This is the idea which most completely charac- 
terizes both revolution and despotism. The Con- 
vention and Louis XIV. exclaimed alike, " L'Etat, 
c'est moi." 

It is as false as it is tyrannical. A nation is not 


a vast aggregate of men, consisting of so many 
thousands or millions, occupying a certain extent of 
ground, and concentrated in, and represented by, a 
unit, called king or assembly. A nation is a great 
organic body, formed by the union within one 
country of certain social elements which assume 
the shape and constitution naturally impressed 
upon them by the primitive laws of God and 
the free acts of man. The diversity of these ele- 
ments is, as we have just seen, one of the essential 
facts resulting from those laws ; and is absolutely 
inconsistent with the false and tyrannous unity 
which it is proposed to establish at the centre of 
government, as representative of that society in 
which it never exists. 

What then, it is said, must all the elements of 
society, all the groups of which it is naturally 
composed, all the various classes, professions, and 
opinions it contains, be represented in the govern- 
ment by powers corresponding to each ? 

No, certainly : society is not a federation of pro- 
fessions, classes, and opinions, which treat, by their 
several delegates, of the affairs which are common 
to them all ; any more than it is a uniform mass of 
exactly similar elements, which send their repre- 
sentatives to the centre of government only because 
they cannot all repair thither themselves, and 
are compelled to reduce themselves to a number 
which can meet in one place and deliberate in 


common. Social unity requires that there should 
be but one government ; but the diversity of the 
social elements equally requires that this govern- 
ment should not be one sole power. 

There is a natural process of attraction and con- 
centration at work in the heart of society, and 
among the numberless particular associations which 
it contains (such as families, professions, classes, and 
parties), by which all the smaller associations are 
successively absorbed into the larger. The mul- 
titude of particular and different elements are thus 
reduced to a small number of principal and essen- 
tial elements, which include and represent all the 

I do not think that these principal elements 
of society ought to be all specially represented in 
the government of the state by several authorities ; 
I only maintain that their diversity is inconsistent 
with the unity of the central power. 

To this reasoning it has often been confidently 
replied that the various elements of society are 
congregated, by the process of free election, in a 
single assembly which represents the whole nation ; 
and which affords them an arena for free discussion, 
where they can maintain their opinions, their inter- 
ests and their rights, and exert their proper influ- 
ence over the resolutions of the assembly, and con- 
sequently over the government of the state. 

We are then to infer from this that we have dis- 


charged the claims of the most varied, weighty, and 
essential social elements when we have said, " Get 
yourselves elected, then give your opinion, and try 
to make it the prevalent one !" Election and dis- 
cussion constitute the entire basis which is to sus- 
tain the social edifice; election and discussion 
afford a sufficient guarantee for all interests, rights, 
and liberties ! 

Such a theory betrays a strange ignorance of 
human nature, human society, and the French 

I will put a single question. The interests of 
society are twofold ; those of stability and conserva- 
tion on the one hand, and those of activity and pro- 
gress on the other. If you wanted to secure the 
interests of activity and progress, would you seek this 
security among the social elements in which the 
interests of stability and conservation are peculiarly 
strong ? Undoubtedly not : you would commit the 
interests of activity and progress to the care of their 
natural and willing protectors, and you would do well. 
But all these various interests have equal wants and 
equal claims. There is no safety for any of them 
but in its appropriate power; that is to say, in a 
power analogous to it in its nature and in its rela- 
tions to other powers. If the interests of stability 
and conservation are committed wholly to the 
chances of the composition of a single elective assem- 


bly, invested with the sole and final decision of all 
questions, and to the chances of the discussions in 
that assembly, be assured that sooner or later, after 
numerous oscillations between tyrannies of different 
kinds, those interests will be sacrificed or lost. 

It is absurd to seek the principle of the political 
stability of government in the mobile elements of 
society. The permanent elements of society must 
find in the government itself, powers corresponding 
to them, and offering a pledge for their security. 
A diversity of powers is equally indispensable to 
conservation and to liberty. 

It is matter of amazement that this truth should 
be disputed, for the very men who dispute it have 
made a great step towards its admission and appli- 
cation. After establishing unity of power at the 
head of the state, they have admitted a division of 
powers lower down, on account of the diversity of 
functions. They have carefully separated the le- 
gislative, executive, administrative, and judicial 
powers; thus practically acknowledging the ne- 
cessity of giving guarantees to different interests, 
by the separation and the different constitution 
of these powers. How is it that they do not 
see that this necessity has a higher application, 
and that the diversity of the general interests 
of society and of the duties of the supreme power, 
imperatively requires a diversity of powers in the 


highest as well as in the subordinate spheres of go- 

But to constitute a real and efficient diversity of 
powers, it is not enough that each should have a 
distinct place and name in the government; it is 
also necessary that all should be strongly organized, 
all fully competent to fill and to maintain the place 
they occupy. 

It is the fashion of the day to think that har- 
mony among the powers of the state, and security 
against their excess, is to be found in their weak- 
ness. People are afraid of every kind of authority ; 
and in order to prevent their destroying each other, 
or encroaching upon liberty, they ingeniouslye n- 
deavour to undermine them all in turn. 

This is a monstrous error. Every weak power is 
a power doomed to perish by extinction or by usur- 
pation. If several weak powers conflict, either one 
will become strong at the expense of the others, 
and will end in a tyranny, or they will trammel 
and neutralize each other, and the result will be 

What is it that has constituted the strength and 
success of constitutional monarchy in England? 
It is that, while the royalty and aristocracy were 
originally strong, the commonalty has become 
strong by successive conquests of its rights from 
the aristocracy and the king. Of the three con- 
stitutional powers, two retain much of their primitive 


greatness, and rest firmly on their deep and primeval 
roots; the third has risen to greatness, arid has gra- 
dually struck its roots deeply into the same soil. 
Each is fully able to defend itself against the other, 
and to fulfil its peculiar mission. 

When an earnest and sincere attempt was made 
to establish constitutional monarchy in France, its 
firmest adherents desired an ancient and histo- 
rical basis for royalty ; for the Chamber of Peers, an 
hereditary seat in the legislature, and for the Cham- 
ber of Deputies, direct election : not by any means 
in obedience to theories or precedents, but in order 
that the great powers of the state might be true 
powers, efficient and living entities, not words or 

In the United States, notwithstanding the differ- 
ence of names, situations, manners, and institutions, 
Washington, Hamilton, Jefferson, and Madison, 
when founding the Republic, recognised and acted 
upon the same principles. They too thought it 
necessary to have different powers at the head of 
the government; and in order that the difference 
might be real, they gave to each of these powers 
i. e. the two chambers and the President a distinct 
origin ; as distinct as the general institutions of the 
country would permit, and as different as their 
several functions. 

Diversity of origin and of nature is one of the 
conditions essential to the intrinsic and real strength 


of powers, and this again is the condition indispen- 
sable to political harmony and social peace. 

Nor is it only at the summit and centre of go- 
vernment that these principles ought to guide the 
organization of power ; they are equally applicable 
through the whole extent of the country, in the 
management of its local, no less than of its general 
affairs. A great deal has been said in favour of 
centralization and administrative unity, and there 
is no doubt that they have rendered great service to 
France. We shall preserve many of their forms, 
regulations, maxims, and works; but the time of 
their sovereignty is past. Centralization is no 
longer sufficient for the chief wants and pressing dan- 
gers of society. The struggle is no longer confined 
to the centre; it agitates the whole nation. Since pro- 
perty, family, and all the bases of society, are attacked 
everywhere, they must everywhere be vigorously 
defended ; and functionaries or orders which have 
to travel from the centre of government will be 
found a very inadequate defence, even though sup- 
ported by bayonets. Landed^ proprietors, and heads 
of families, who are the natural guardians of society, 
must all be enjoined and empowered to maintain 
its security by conducting its affairs : they must 
have an active share in the management of its local 
as well as its general interests ; in the administra- 
tion, as well as the government of the country : the 
central government ought to uphold the banner of 


social order, but it cannot bear the whole burthen 
of it unaided. 

I speak always on the presumption that I am 
speaking to a free country, and of a free govern- 
ment; for it is under free governments that the 
safety of society demands all these conditions : they 
have evidently no application to absolute govern- 

Absolute power -is, however, subject to certain 
conditions, as well as liberty. It is far from being 
always possible where it would be submitted to, 
nor can it be obtained wherever it is desired. 

Let the friends of freedom never forget that 
nations prefer absolute power to anarchy. The 
first want the first instinct of communities, as 
well as of governments or of individuals, is self- 
preservation. Now a community may exist under 
absolute power ; under anarchy, if it lasts, it must 

The readiness, I might almost say the eagerness, 
with which nations throw .their liberties into the 
gulf of anarchy, in the desperate attempt to close it, 
is a shameful spectacle. I know nothing more 
lamentable to witness than this sudden renunciation 
of all the rights so noisily and vehemently de- 
manded. The friend of freedom and of progress 
who would fall into despair of man and of the 
future at this humiliating sight must withdraw into 
himself, and refresh and invigorate his soul at those 


high and pure fountains which nourish deep con- 
victions and far-reaching hopes. 

Let not France, whatever be her peril, reckon on 
absolute power to save her. It would not justify 
her confidence. In her ancient society, absolute 
power reposed on a principle of moderation and of 
permanence ; while, under the Emperor Napoleon, it 
contained a principle of strength, either of which it 
would vainly seek for now. Popular tyranny or 
military dictatorship may be the expedient of a day, 
but can never be a form of government. Free insti- 
tutions are now as necessary to social peace as they 
are to individual dignity ; and power, whatever be 
its nature or origin, whether republican or monar- 
chical, has no wiser course to pursue than to learn 
to use them, for they are now its only instruments 
and its only stay. 

If some are tempted to seek repose in other 
sources, let them abandon all such hopes. What- 
ever be the future destiny of France, we shall 
not escape from the necessity of a constitutional 
government ; we are condemned, for our own salva- 
tion, to surmount all the difficulties, and to fulfil all 
the conditions, with which it may be encumbered. 

There is but one means of rendering ourselves 
equal to this mighty task, and of complying with 
this imperious necessity. All the elements of sta- 
bility, all the conservative forces in the country 
must unite closely and act constantly together. It 



is no more possible to extinguish democracy in the 
nation than liberty in the government. That im- 
mense movement which has been communicated to 
every country and agitates all their deepest re- 
cesses ; which is incessantly inciting every class and 
every individual to think, to desire, to claim, to act, 
to employ his activity in every direction, this 
movement will not be stopped. It is a fact in which 
we must acquiesce, whether it pleases or displeases 
us, whether it awakens our fears or excites our 
hopes. But though we cannot extinguish this 
movement, we can guide and govern it ; and if it is 
not guided and governed, it will throw back the 
whole current of civilization, and will be the oppro- 
brium as well as the curse of humanity. De- 
mocracy, to be guided and governed, must form a 
considerable ingredient in the state, but it must not 
be the sole one : it must be strong enough to climb 
itself, but never to pull down others : it must find 
issues, and encounter barriers on every side. De- 
mocracy is a fertilizing, but muddy stream, whose 
waters are never beneficent till the turbid and im- 
petuous current has spread itself abroad and sub- 
sided into calmness and purity. 

The Dutch, a great people, though in a small 
country, whose republican glory shone brightly 
even amidst the full blaze of the monarchical 
glory of Louis XIV., conquered their country from 
the ocean, and maintained their conquest, by cut- 


ting canals and raising dikes on every side. It is 
the ceaseless care of the whole community that the 
canals be never obstructed and the dikes never 
broken ; for on this depend the prosperity and the 
existence of Holland. 

Let all the conservative elements of France learn 
from this example ; let them unite all their efforts, 
let them keep a common and incessant watch, that 
the rising tide of democracy may always find safe 
channels and indestructible barriers. On the joint 
and efficient action of these depend the safety of 
the community, and the safety of each individual 
composing it. If the conservative elements of 
French society know how to combine and to form a 
united body, if the party spirit which prevails 
among them shall give way to a large and en- 
lightened political spirit, then France, and the de- 
mocracy of France, are saved. If the conservative 
elements remain disunited and disorganized, Demo- 
cracy will destroy France, and will perish under the 
ruins she has made. 




THE political conditions which I have just specified. 
are indispensable to the re-establishment of social 
peace in France ; but they alone will not suffice. 
Such a work requires something more than a good 
organization of powers ; it requires a certain mea- 
sure of prudence and virtue oh the part of the 
people themselves. It is a gross delusion to believe 
in the sovereign power of political machinery. The 
free will of man plays a great part in social affairs, 
and the success of institutions must in the end 
depend on the men who live under them. 

Much has lately been said about Christianity, 
and the name of Jesus Christ has been frequently 
introduced into the harangues of demagogues. 
God forbid that I should suffer my mind to dwell 
long on these profanations, this hideous mixture 
of cynicism and hypocrisy. I shall only suggest one 
question If the French nation were sincerely and 
practically Christian, what would be its conduct in 
the midst of the terrible difficulties by which it is 
agitated and perplexed ? 


The rich and great of the earth would earnestly 
and perseveringly labour to alleviate the distresses 
of those beneath them. Their intercourse with the 
poorer classes would be active, affectionate, morally 
and physically beneficent. The various sufferings 
and perils of humanity would call forth correspond- 
ing associations, endowments, and works of charity. 

The poor and humble would be submissive to the 
will of God and the laws of society. They would 
seek the satisfaction of their wants in regular and 
assiduous labour, the improvement of their con- 
dition in good conduct and provident habits, and 
consolation and hope in the futurity promised to 

These are the Christian virtues they are called 
Faith, Hope, and Charity. Is this the conduct men 
are exhorted by the preachers of Democracy to 
pursue ? Are these the sentiments which these 
men, who affect a veneration for the Founder of 
Christianity, try to rekindle in the hearts of the 
people ? 

I doubt whether they can carry the impudence 
of mendacity so far as to answer in the affirmative ; 
and if they dared to do so, I am sure that, spite of 
the credulity of the public, they would receive a 
universal contradiction. 

But these monstrous attempts, whether the result 
of fraud or of folly, will not succeed. Christianity will 
not be disfigured or degraded so. Nothing can be 


more anti-Christian than the ideas, the language, 
or the influence of the present race of reformers of 
social order. If Communism and Socialism pre- 
vailed, Christianity must become extinct : if 
Christianity were more potent, Communism and 
Socialism would soon sink into the chaotic mass of 
obscure and .forgotten extravagances. 

I wish to be perfectly just ; and while attacking 
notions which are the disgrace arid the curse of our 
times, I would acknowledge whatever germ of mo- 
rality they contain, and show what virtuous pretexts 
or benevolent instincts may delude their advocates 
or seduce their converts. 

There is a sentiment, noble and beautiful in 
itself, which has been much and often appealed to 
throughout all the perturbations and convulsions 
of society in France ; this sentiment is, enthusiasm 
for mankind the enthusiasm of confidence, sym- 
pathy, and hope. This feeling reigned supreme 
among us in 1789, and gave its resistless impulse 
to that epoch. There was no virtue that was not 
ascribed to man no success that was not hoped 
and predicted for him. Faith and hope in man 
took the place of faith and hope in God. The 
trial was not long deferred. The idol did not 
long retain its power. Confidence was soon con- 
victed of presumption, and sympathy ended in 
social war and the scaffold. The hopes that were 
fulfilled appeared insignificant, compared to those 


that had vanished like dreams. Never did expe- 
rience advance with such rapid strides to confront 
and overthrow pride. 

Yet it is to this same sentiment that our modern 
reformers of social order appeal. It is this same 
idolatrous enthusiasm for human nature that they 
invoke. At the same time that they rob man of 
his sublimest emotions and loftiest prospects, they 
exalt without measure his nature and his power : 
rather, I ought to say, they miserably degrade 
them, for they promise him nothing beyond this 
earth ; but while there, their belief in him is blind 
and implicit their hope from him, and for him, 

The most melancholy reflection is, that this 
insane idolatry is their only excuse; the only one 
of their ideas which springs from a source of the 
smallest elevation, or possesses the smallest moral 
value. If they had not a blind faith in man, and 
a servile adoration of humanity, they would be 
nothing more than the propagators of a rapacious, 
brutish, and lawless materialism. 

" If man exalteth himself," says Pascal, " I abase 
him ; if he abaseth himself, I exalt him." We ought 
continually to bear in mind and to apply these 
admirable words. Certainly man is a being worthy 
to inspire us with respect and love, and with high 
hopes of his future condition. To those who were 
insensible to the nobleness of his nature and his 


destiny to himself, if he forgot it I should say with 
Pascal, " If man abaseth himself, I exalt him." 
But to those who promise themselves everything 
from him, by promising him everything; whose 
expectations from him are as boundless as those 
they labour to excite in him ; to those who, goaded 
by their own pride, are constantly striving to inflate 
his pride ; who forget, and try to make him forget, 
the frailty and wretchedness of his nature, the 
supreme laws by which he is bound, and the sup- 
port of which he stands in need, to those men 1 
would say with Pascal, " If man exalteth himself, I 
abase him." And facts, recent, glaring, incon- 
trovertible facts, say it far more impressively 
than I. 

It is impossible to restore France to the state of 
things which prevailed in 1789 to rekindle that 
enthusiasm of presumptuous confidence and hope 
with which the nation was then drunk an en- 
thusiasm which then was genuine as well as general, 
had the ardour and spontaneity of youth, and was 
rendered excusable by inexperience, but which now 
would be only a false and factitious excitement ; a 
thin, an ineffectual veil thrown over bad passions and 
insane dreams. By what incurable arrogance could 
we reject the lessons which God has lavished upon 
us for the last sixty years ? He does not require 
of us to despair of ourselves and of our species, to 
abandon all efforts for its progress, or to shut our 


hearts against a tender sympathy in its weal or woe ; 
but He does forbid us to exalt our own nature 
into an idol. He commands us to see it as it is ; 
without illusion and without coldness ; and to love 
and serve it according to the laws He has established. 
I have certainly no desire to extinguish any of the 
small portion of moral ardour still remaining in 
the world, nor to infuse additional doubt and 
indifference into hearts already so lukewarm and 
uncertain. But neither can I add to their de- 
lusions. It is not by retracing its course toward the 
sources of the revolution, that France will walk with 
a firm and animated step : those fountains are all 
dry, and our generation will not go to slake its 
thirst or refresh its spirit at them. You complain 
of its languor ; you want to see the faith and the 
moral energy, which are the soul and strength of 
nations, revive among us : but it is vain to seek 
them in the revolutionary spirit, which is wholly 
incapable of inspiring them. It is a fire which 
has still power to consume, but can neither warm 
nor enlighten. Instead of reviving and invigorat- 
ing our belief in the great truths which are the 
wholesome stimulants as well as the true guardians 
of society, they can only diffuse doubt and perplexity. 
Certainly France wants to be morally elevated and 
strengthened ; she wants to regain her faith in, 
and attachment to, fixed and undisputed principles. 


But the revolutionary spirit can do nothing to 
appease these wants ; the scenes and the harangues, 
the predictions and the recollections which it sug- 
gests, can only retard the work. The honour of its 
accomplishment is reserved for other moral powers 
and other intellectual tendencies. 

Among the foremost, are the domestic sentiments 
and morals. The Family is now, more than ever, 
the first element and the last rampart of society. 
Whilst, in general society, everything becomes 
more and more mobile, personal, and transient, it is 
in domestic life that the demand for permanency, and 
the feeling of the necessity of sacrificing the present 
to the future, are indestructible. It is in domestic 
life that the ideas and the virtues which form a coun- 
terpoise to the excessive and ungoverned movement 
excited in the great centres of civilization, are formed. 
The tumult of business and pleasure, temptation and 
strife which reigns in our great cities, would soon 
throw the whole of society into a deplorable 
state of ferment and dissolution, if domestic life, 
with its calm activity, its permanent interests, and 
its fixed property, did not oppose solid barriers 
throughout the country to the restless waves of 
this stormy sea. It is in the bosom of domestic 
life, and under its influences, that private, the 
basis of public, morality is most securely main- 
tained. There too, and in our days there almost 


exclusively, the affections of our nature, friend- 
ship, gratitude, and self-devotion, all the ties 
which unite hearts in the sense of a common 
destiny, grow and flourish. The time has been 
when, under other forms of society, these private 
affections found a place in public life ; when de- 
voted attachments strengthened political connexions. 
These times are past, never to return. In the vast 
and complicated and ever-moving society of our 
days, general interests and principles, the senti- 
ments of the masses, and the combinations of parties, 
have the entire possession and direction of public 
life. The private affections are ties too delicate to 
exercise any powerful influence over the conflicts of 
that pitiless field. But it is never without serious 
injury that one of the vital elements of human 
nature is uprooted out of any of the fields of 
human action; and the complete absence of tender 
and faithful attachments in that almost exclusive 
domain of abstract ideas and general or selfish 
interests, has robbed political life of a noble orna- 
ment and a great source of strength. It is of in- 
calculable importance to society that there should 
be some safe retreat in which the affectionate dis- 
positions I would almost say passions of the heart 
of man may expand in freedom ; and that, occa- 
sionally emerging from that retreat, they may ex- 
hibit their presence and their power by some beau- 
tiful examples in that tumultuous region of politics 


in which they are so rarely found. But these so- 
cial virtues must be nursed in the bosom of domes- 
tic life ; these social affections must spring from 
family affections. Home, the abode of stability 
and morality, also contains the hearth at which 
all our affections and all our self-devotion are 
kindled ; it is in the circle of the Family that the 
noblest parts of our nature find satisfactions they 
would seek for else in vain ; it is from that circle 
that, when circumstances demand, they can go 
forth to adorn and bless society. 

Next to the spirit of family, the political spirit 
is that from which France has now the greatest ser- 
vices to expect, and which she ought to foster with 
the greatest care. The political spirit shows itself in 
the will and the power to take a regular and active 
part in public affairs, without employment of violence 
or risk of disturbance. The greater the spread and 
cultivation of the political spirit, the more does it 
teach men the necessity and the habit of seeing 
things as they are in their exact and naked truth. 
To see, not what exists, but what they wish ; to in- 
dulge complacently in illusions about facts, as if 
facts would, with equal complacency, take the form 
that they desire, is the radical and characteristic 
weakness of men still new to political life, and the 
source of their most fatal errors. To see things as 
they are, is the first and very excellent fruit of the 
political spirit, and gives birth to another not less 


excellent, viz. that, by learning to see only what 
is, we learn to desire only what is possible ; the 
exact appreciation of facts begets moderation in de- 
signs and pretensions. The political spirit, true and 
sincere to itself, becomes prudent and reasonable 
towards others. Nothing inclines men more to mo- 
deration than a full knowledge of the truth ; for it 
is rarely that she throws all her weight into one 
scale. The political spirit is thus naturally led by 
prudence, if by no higher morality, to that respect 
for rights which is not only its fundamental law and 
essential merit, but the sole basis of social stability ; 
since, where law ceases, nothing remains but force, 
which is essentially variable and precarious. The 
respect for rights supposes, or produces, the respect 
for law, the habitual source of rights. The real and 
the possible, rights and law, such are the subjects 
upon which the political spirit is constantly exercised, 
and which become the habitual objects of its inquiry 
and its veneration. It thus maintains, or re-esta- 
blishes, a moral principle of fixity in the relations of 
individuals, and a moral principle of authority in 
those of the state. 

The more the value for family ties shall increase 
at the expense of the selfishness of an isolated exist- 
ence, and the more the political shall gain upon the 
revolutionary spirit, the more tranquil will the so- 
ciety of France become, and the more firmly will it 
rest upon its foundations. 


Nevertheless, neither the domestic nor the po- 
litical spirit would suffice for the task. They need 
the assistance of another and a higher spirit, whose 
influence penetrates more deeply than they can do 
into the human soul. It is peculiar to religion 
that she has a language for every individual ; a 
language which all can understand, the high as 
well as the humble, the happy as well as the un- 
happy; and that she ascends or descends, without 
an effort, into every rank and region of society. 
And it is one of the admirable features of the con- 
stitution of the Christian church, that her ministers 
are not only scattered over, but form an integral part 
of, the whole of society ; living as near to the cottage 
as the palace ; in habitual and intimate intercourse 
with the highest and the lowest; equally the mo- 
nitors of greatness and the consolers of misery. 
This tutelary power, spite of the abuses and the 
fault* into which it has been led by its very force 
and extent, has for ages exercised a more vigilant 
and energetic control over the moral dignity and 
the dearest interests of man, than any other. No- 
body would be so averse as I should, for the sake 
of religion herself, to see a revival of the abuses 
by which she has been disfigured or corrupted; but 
I confess that I do not fear this at the present 
day. The principles of lay supremacy and freedom 
of thought have definitively triumphed in modern 
society : they may still have some enemies to repel, 


and some conflicts to sustain, but their victory is 
certain ; they have in their favour the prevailing 
institutions, manners, opinions, and passions; and 
that general and overwhelming current of ideas 
and events which flows on through all diversities, 
obstacles, and perils, in the same direction, at 
Rome, Madrid, Turin, Berlin, and Vienna, no 
less than at London or Paris. For modern 
society to fear religion, or to dispute her influ- 
ence with acrimony, would therefore be a puerile 
alarm and a fatal error. You are surrounded 
by an immense and excited multitude ; you 
complain that you want means to act upon it, 
to enlighten, direct, control, and tranquillize it; 
that you have little intercourse with these men, save 
through the tax-gatherer and the policeman ; that 
they are given over, without defence, to the 
inflammatory declamations of charlatans and dema- 
gogues, and to the blind violence of their own 
passions. Dispersed among them, you have men 
whose express mission and constant occupation it 
is to guide their faith, to console their distresses, 
to show them their duties, to awaken and elevate 
their hopes, to exercise over them that moral influ- 
ence which you vainly seek elsewhere. And would 
you not second these men in their work, when 
they can second you so powerfully in yours, pre- 
cisely in those obscure enclosures where you so 
rarely penetrate, and where the enemies of social 



order enter continually, and sap all their founda- 
tions ? 

There is, it is true, a condition attached to the 
favour and the political efficacy of the religious 
spirit; it demands sincere respect, and liberty. I 
will even confess that the fears and desires of the 
religious party often render them unjust, captious, 
suspicious, rancorous, and exacting; that they 
sometimes fall into the vortex of those false, anar- 
chical and chimerical ideas which it is their pecu- 
liar vocation to combat. I will make as large con- 
cessions as can be required, as to the injustice you 
must expect to submit to, and the precautions 
you will have to take; yet I shall say at the 
conclusion, as I said at the beginning, Do not 
hold up acrimonious disputes with religion ; do 
not fear her influences ; allow them space and 
liberty to expand and to act in the largest and most 
powerful manner. On the whole, they will certainly 
be more in favour of tranquillity than of strife, and 
will assist more than they will embarrass you. 

If we were under that proximate necessity of act- 
ing, which affords a light indispensable to those who 
want to do more than lay down general princi- 
ples of action, it would be our business to inquire 
by what practical means, by what positive institu- 
tions or laws, the domestic, the political, and the 
religious spirit might be duly strengthened and de- 
veloped in our country. At present I shall only add 


one word. We cannot treat with great moral forces 
as if they were mercenary and suspected auxiliaries. 1 
They exist by themselves, with their natural merits 
and defects, their unavoidable benefits and dangers. 
We must accept them, such as they are ; without 
pretending to be either their slaves or their tyrants, 
without giving up everything to them, but also 
without trying to withhold their just portion. The 
religious, the domestic, and the political spirit are 
more than ever beneficent, more than ever neces- 
sary, in our society. Neither social tranquillity, nor 
stability, nor order can dispense with their co-opera- 
tion. Seek then that co-operation with sincerity ; 
receive it with a good grace, and resign yourselves 
to pay the price of it. 

Societies, no more than individuals, are exempted 
from the necessity of purchasing advantages by 
efforts and sacrifices. 





LET not France deceive herself. Not all the experi- 
ments she may try, not all the revolutions she may 
make, or suffer to be made, will ever emancipate 
her from the necessary and inevitable conditions 
of social tranquillity and good government. She 
may refuse to admit them, and may suffer without 
measure or limit from her refusal, but she cannot 
escape from them. 

We have tried everything : Republic Empire 
Constitutional Monarchy. We are beginning our 
experiments anew. To what must we ascribe their 
ill success? In our own times, before our own 
eyes, in three of the greatest nations in the world, 
these three same forms of government Constitu- 
tional Monarchy in England, the Empire in Russia, 
and the Republic in North America endure and 
prosper. Have we the monopoly of all impossi- 
bilities ? 

Yes; so long as we remain in the chaos in which 
we are plunged, in the name, and by the slavish 
idolatry, of Democracy; so long as we can see 
nothing in society but Democracy, as if that were 


its sole ingredient ; so long as we seek in govern- 
ment nothing but the domination of Democracy, 
as if that alone had the right and the power to 

On these terms the Republic is equally impos- 
sible as the Constitutional Monarchy, and the Em- 
pire, as the Republic ; for all regular and stable 
government is impossible. 

And liberty legal and energetic liberty is no 
less impossible than stable and regular government. 

The world has seen great and illustrious com- 
munities reduced to this deplorable condition ; in- 
Capable of supporting any legal and energetic 
liberty, or any regular and stable government ; con- 
demned to interminable and sterile political oscilla- 
tions, from the various shades and forms of anarchy 
to the equally various forms of despotism. For a 
heart capable of any feeling of pride or dignity, I 
cannot conceive a more cruel suffering than to be 
born in such an age. Nothing remains but to 
retire to the sanctuary of domestic life, and the 
prospects of religion. The joys and the sacrifices, 
the labours and the glories of public life exist no 

Such is not, God be praised, the state of France; 
such will not be the closing scene of her long and 
glorious career of civilization, of all her exer- 
tions, conquests, hopes, and sufferings. France is 
full of life and vigour. She has not mounted so 


high, to descend in the name of equality to so low 
a level. She possesses the elements of a good 
political organization. She has numerous classes 
of citizens, enlightened and respected, already ac- 
customed to manage the business of their country, 
or prepared to undertake it. Her soil is covered 
with an industrious and intelligent population, who 
detest anarchy, and ask only to live and to labour 
in peace. There is an abundance of virtue in the 
bosoms of her families, and of good feeling in the 
hearts of her sons. We have wherewithal to strug- 
gle against the evil that devours us. But the evil 
is immense. There are no words wherein to de- 
scribe, no measure wherewith to measure it. The 
suffering and the shame it inflicts upon us are 
slight, compared to those it prepares for us if it en- 
dures. And who will say that it cannot endure, 
when all the passions of the wicked, all the extra- 
vagances of the mad, all the weaknesses of the 
good, concur to foment it ? Let all the sane forces 
of France then unite to combat it. They will not 
be too many, and they must not wait till it is too 
late. Their united strength will more than once 
bend under the weight of their work, and France, 
ere she can be saved, will still need to pray that 
God would protect her. 



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